Black Hat SEO is a term that is used when websites attempt to game the systems that search engines operate on. Black Hat tactics are generally frowned upon and typically violate a search engines terms of service. Not only will Black Hat SEO ruin your reputation among other publications and websites, but many search engines will also punish users of Black Hat techniques, making it less likely that their future posts will appear at the top of any search results. The following are some of the most common Black Hat techniques and how you can avoid using them while still publishing quality content:
An important part of SEO is the use of keywords or phrases that users might search for in order to increase the chance of the content being found using a search engine. Some websites take it too far and will repeat the keyword from 50 to 100 times. While this might bump the content higher for those searching for that keyword, using the keyword too much makes the content hard to read and often prevents the content from making any sense at all. Other websites might make the keywords the same color as the background so that they are invisible, which does nothing for the user since they can’t see them. It is often very obvious if keywords are being used to the point they don’t make sense, and modern search engines will find out and punish keyword stuffers accordingly. You should always be cognizant of your keyword usage in order to improve your contents SEO, but make sure you don’t use them to the point that your content becomes repetitive or doesn’t make any sense. To learn more about effective keyword usage and avoiding keyword stuffing, you can check out this article.
Cloaking involves showing different content to site users than what is shown to search engines. Spam or malware sites will often do this in order to avoid being caught by the search engine as spam. Websites will also do this so that their content shows up in search terms that are irrelevant to their actual content. Showing different content in search engines and your actual site can be perfectly valid, just make sure that you are doing so to benefit the user. For example, creating a site for mobile users that is more streamlined is perfectly acceptable, even if it can’t be accessed by search engine bots. If you create dummy content for search engine bots only that is completely different than what users will be shown, then you would be practicing Black Hat SEO. Most modern search engines have ways of detecting cloaking and will catch users trying to redirect users to malware or spam sites.
Those who participate in comment sections on various social media sites will have likely come across an account that simply spammed an advertisement with a link to a specific site. This is an incredibly common Black Hat technique that has a content creator (or an automated bot) go to various comment sections and post the link to a piece of content. Most websites have moderators that will remove these types of comments, and most users will probably be annoyed and not want to click the link anyway. Not only is this technique frowned upon, but it is also a completely ineffective SEO technique. Search engines are very quick to punish websites that are posting hundreds of backlinks and having spam backlinks often ends up lowering your sites rank on a search engine. Backlinks can be a useful tool if used appropriately, like in the comments section of your own content or an affiliate’s content. You just want to make sure you are not spamming backlinks across many websites that are not related to your linked content. To learn more about properly using backlinks to promote your content, visit this page.
Duplicating content has been a Black Hat technique widely used in order to cheat search engines. There are a couple of different ways of duplicating content, but the most common is to find an article from another site and copy and paste large chunks of the text onto your site. In some cases, content creators will simply post the exact same article on multiple different sites in an attempt to ensure at least one will make it to the top of a results page. In reality, this is a technique that will likely cause you more harm than good. Firstly, search engines that find duplicate content will likely have it removed from the results page or at least try to figure out the original and remove the copies. It also greatly lowers the user experience to find copies of the exact same article on different sites, and if you become known to plagiarize users will likely steer clear of your content. Avoiding duplicate content is quite simple, you just need to make sure that you are not copying and pasting other’s work or posting your own on multiple websites. It is also good practice to search for articles on your topic and make sure you aren’t plagiarizing (try and use different words and phrases when possible). It is never a bad idea to cite your sources if you want to use an idea or phrase from another website’s content.
Avoiding Black Hat SEO
These are only a few Black Hat techniques that have been attempted in recent years. If you really want to avoid running afoul of search engine guidelines, simply ask yourself: is what I am doing beneficial to the user? If the answer is yes, then it is likely not going to be considered Black Hat. If the answer is no, you may need to rethink what you are doing and make sure you don’t fall into Black Hat territory. With the ever-increasing complexity of search engines using Black Hat techniques will quickly lead to punishments and won’t be effective in the long run. For a list of some more common Black Hat techniques to avoid you can go here. We hope this article has been insightful on how to avoid Black Hat practices that will hurt your web traffic. Be sure to check out some of our other content including SEO Developments you need to know or utilizing Keyword Usage to improve your SEO.